Oświęcim is a city that is primarily associated with Auschwitz, but it hides many other interesting places worth visiting. One of them is the Jewish Centre, which was established on the initiative of the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation. The Centre’s mission is to preserve the memory of the Jewish community of Oświęcim and to educate about the dangers of intolerance, racism and prejudice associated with otherness.
The museum is located in a pre-war Jewish family’s house, which is adjacent to the synagogue. The main exhibition called ,,Oshpitzin, the history of Jewish Oswiecim’’ presents over 400 years of Jewish presence in the city through photographs, documents, historical exhibits and multimedia. Oshpitzin is the Jewish name for Oświęcim. In Yiddish, it means ,,guests’’.
The Jewish Centre also takes care of the town’s only surviving Synagogue and the home of the last resident of Oświęcim of Jewish origin, Szymon Kluger. The synagogue houses a group of lamps and chandeliers, among which is the Ter Tamid lamp – ,,eternal light’’.
Visitors to the Jewish Centre can enjoy guided tours of the museum, the historic synagogue and the Jewish traces in the city. For schools from Poland and abroad, the Centre runs workshops on the history of Judaism and human rights. For students and uniformed services there are special study programmes on the history of the Holocaust, the problem of contemporary prejudice and discrimination.
The Jewish Museum’s collection also includes photographs of Jewish and non-Jewish families of pre-war Oświęcim, which document the life of the city’s multicultural community. One of the most valuable exhibits is a register of Jewish residents of Oświęcim who returned to the city after the war.
Cafe Bergson, on the other hand, is a unique café in the restored house of the last Jewish Oswiecim resident. The menu includes vegetarian homemade cakes, bagels and great coffee.
It is worth noting that the Jewish Centre in Oświęcim is a place not only for tourists, but also for the residents of the town and the surrounding area. It hosts numerous events, meetings and educational workshops aimed at promoting the values of dialogue, tolerance and respect for cultural diversity.